Why is PPP distancing itself from former allies


Not so long ago, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) along with several other political parties ruled the country, promising to reduce inflation, bring prosperity and reduce the role of the powerful institutions in political domain.

However, they failed on all fronts as admitted by PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari during his farewell speech in the National Assembly before it was dissolved just three days before it could complete its five-year tenure.

To add insult to injury, the former ruling coalition is now divided on the timing of holding the general elections in the country as the PPP wants polls within the 90-day period, while the PML-N, among others, is content with a delay until next February.

On elections, the PPP has clearly taken a different stance than the PML-N’s, just weeks after it helped the former ruling coalition parties to unanimously approve the digital census results that facilitated the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to go for delimitation exercise before holding the elections.

Read PPP, PML-N split on election timing

On inflation and inflated electricity bills, the PPP has started asking the interim government to take steps that should provide relief to the poor and the middle class by shifting the burden on the elite– as if it wasn’t in power just until August 8 this year.

On Thursday, PPP Vice President Sherry Rehman demanded of the interim government, which has recently taken charge until next general elections, should immediately come up with a plan regarding the inflated electricity bills – an action wasn’t taken during the coalition rule.

Admitting that 10 kinds of surcharges were already being imposed on the people in the electricity bill, Rehman said in a statement that she has heard that new taxes would be imposed on the people via electricity bills.

On the other hand, the PML-N has simply preferred to put blame on the former judges and generals, saying that their decisions to disqualify the PML-N supremo in 2017 led to the current wave of inflation and excessive electricity bills; implying as if the PML-N didn’t rule between April 2022 and August 2023.

Though one faction of the PML-N openly blames the establishment, while the other stays silent, the PML-N leadership is unanimous in putting the blame on PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan for the current economic crisis.

“The PPP is trying to disassociate itself from the 16-month coalition government’s failures and wants to shift the entire blame on the PML-N,” eminent scholar professor Dr Hassan Askari said. “The PPP is rethinking, keeping in view the current situation.”

Political parties have badly been exposed, Prof Askari said, adding that the PDM government had come to end inflation but one can clearly see the situation right now, where the people can’t even manage their day-to-day affairs.

Also read Digital census ploy against PPP: Senator Taj Haider

He noted that the polls in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa couldn’t be held when these parties were in power, but now they were shedding crocodile’s tears.

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, the president of the Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) said that the PPP was trying to distance itself from the “unpopular decisions” of the coalition government, of which the party was a major partner.

Agreeing that the PPP’s decision to first play its part in approving the decision of the Council of Common Interest (CCI) and then demanding elections within 90 days that exposed its “double standards”, the PILDAT president asked: “is there any bar on maintaining double standards.”

Currently, the PILDAT chief said, all political parties were trying to sell to the people whatever they can, as admission of guilt or failure wouldn’t lead to anything good in the election year. Mehboob argued that the political parties and the politicians, who wished to stay relevant, did not have the option of staying quiet. In this instant case, he added, the PPP was simply trying to maintain a separate identity before the polls.

He pointed out that there had always been resentment against the PML-N in the PPP rank and file, especially in Punjab. He gave an example of the PPP-PML-N alliance of 2008, which couldn’t sustain for long.

He, however, gave some margin to the PPP saying that the party was justified in asking for elections within 90 days, when there was no plan to increase the number of seats by the ECP. “Constitutionally,” he added, “delimitation is not required.”

For the moment, despite having a resolute stance on timely general elections earlier, the PPP faced an intricate dilemma in the wake of the CCI’s approval of the digital census. But then, it decided that there shouldn’t be any delay in holding polls, and now it is advocating the same when the PML-N and some other parties have no issues over the election delay.

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